Management of acute pancreatitis in the first 72 hours

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2018 Sep;34(5):330-335. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000456.


Purpose of review: Acute pancreatitis is a common condition that affects patients with varying degrees of severity and may lead to significant morbidity and mortality. The present article will review the current paradigm in acute pancreatitis management within the first 72 h of diagnosis.

Recent findings: Patients presenting with acute pancreatitis should be evaluated clinically for signs and symptoms of organ failure in order to appropriately triage. Initial management should focus on fluid resuscitation, with some data to support Ringer's lactate over physiological saline. Routine use of prophylactic antibiotics in acute pancreatitis is not recommended, nor is urgent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in the absence of concomitant acute cholangitis. Early oral feeding should be encouraged, not avoided, and use of parenteral nutrition is discouraged. Cholecystectomy during the same admission of biliary pancreatitis should be performed in order to prevent future acute pancreatitis episodes. Patients with acute pancreatitis secondary to alcohol should receive alcohol counseling. Finally, there is ongoing interest in the development of prognostic laboratory tests in acute pancreatitis and pharmacological therapies to reduce the inflammation that occurs in acute pancreatitis.

Summary: Acute pancreatitis is a common and heterogeneous condition with the potential for significant morbidity. Best practices in acute pancreatitis management focus on triage, hydration and enteral feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis / therapy*
  • Patient Care Management*
  • Time Factors
  • Triage